The University of Pittsburgh at Greensburg (150 Finoli Drive, Greensburg, PA 15601) invites the community to join in honoring US Military veterans and current service personnel during this year’s Veterans Week events set for Saturday, Nov. 4 through Friday, Nov. 10.
The theme for Veterans Week 2023 is “75 years of breaking barriers,” which marks the 75th anniversary of the Women’s Armed Services Integration Act and Executive Order 9981 of 1948. These orders allowed women to serve as regular members of the Army, Navy, Air Force, and Marine Corps and directed the desegregation of the United States Armed Forces, respectively.
Highlights of this year’s events include a gathering of the Veterans Breakfast Club on campus and a panel featuring a 102-year-old WAVE veteran who served as a cryptologist in WWII, a combat medic, and a UH-60 Blackhawk pilot. See the complete list of events below. These events are free and open to the public.
Saturday, Nov. 4 – Veterans Breakfast Club – 8:30 a.m. to 10:30 a.m. (Hempfield Room (Chambers Hall)
Pitt-Greensburg is proud to host its third Veterans Breakfast Club live event--made possible through the support of Premier Sponsor Humana. Veterans from all eras, their families, and anyone interested in learning more about the veterans' service experiences are encouraged to attend. It's a great opportunity to connect with fellow veterans, share stories, and enjoy a great breakfast! Emcee Todd DePastino's broad knowledge of American history and his engaging interview style make this an entertaining--and educational--experience. Please RSVP for planning purposes. Thanks to the support of Premier Sponsor Humana, there is no cost to attend. Forgot to RSVP? No worries, you can still join us on the day of the event.
Monday, Nov. 6 – Wreath Ceremony – 11:30 a.m. (Veterans Plaza, the flagpole area in front of Chambers Hall)
The campus community invites the public to join them at 11:30 a.m. on Monday, Nov. 6, for a Wreath Ceremony. This is a reverent gesture that embodies the honor of service and remembrance. Aryanna Wagner, a US Army Veteran, is an Iraq war veteran who describes herself as a veteran advocate, an author, and a mom of four. Wagner enlisted just weeks after the terror attacks of 9/11 and served with the XVIII Airborne Corp on the front lines during Operation Iraqi. Today, she is a federal consultant supporting Department of Veterans Affairs initiatives and is a LUMA-certified human-centered design practitioner. She also is the executive director of RISE Veterans, whose mission is founded on the principles of representation, inclusion, solidarity, and equity in service to all veterans whether that be community, advocacy, or healing. Also participating in the ceremony will be an Honor Guard made up of Pitt-Greensburg ROTC cadets and bugler Tom Beaver, USAF veteran.
Monday, Nov. 6 – Reflections of Service: 75 Years of Breaking Barriers – 6 p.m. (Mary Lou Campana Chapel and Lecture Center)
Reflections of Service: 75 Years of Breaking Barriers is a panel of incredible women veterans who will share their stories and experiences. US Army Veteran Dorey Stabile will moderate the conversation. Despite their integral contributions to the military, women have historically been under-represented in the armed forces. Today, women make up less than 10 percent of the total population of veterans, and their presence in military history is limited.
- Julia Parsons – WWII Code Breaker – ENIGMA: Julia Parsons, now 102 years old, helped win World War II as a Navy WAVE. A cryptologist, Parsons helped break the Germans’ naval codes, often locating the precise locations and plans of the fearsome U-Boat (submarine) fleet, whose Wolfpack swarms threatened to cut off the shipping lanes that connected the United States to England. Parsons took her mission of secrecy to heart and didn’t talk about her wartime experiences until 1997.
- Toshua Jarrett – Combat Medic: Toshua Jarrett is the chief development officer at the Veterans Leadership Program. A native of Marion Center, PA, Jarrett was a combat medic in the US Army and is a veteran of the historic 1st Infantry Division—“The Big Red One.” Since 2014 Jarrett has been working at the Veterans Leadership Program of Western Pennsylvania, playing an integral role in planning and executing fundraising strategies, as well as coordinating community events for fundraising and veteran employment.
- Jackie Bechdel – UH-60 Blackhawk Pilot: Jackie Bechdel was born and raised in western Pennsylvania and officially enlisted in the Army Reserves through ROTC in October 2001. Upon graduation in 2003, she earned her commission as a 2LT and was branched to Aviation. She began flight school at Fort Rucker (Alabama) and graduated as a Commandant’s List Graduate in 2005. After training with her National Guard Unit in Johnstown, PA, she was sent to her advanced aircraft training in the UH-60 Blackhawk at the Eastern Army Aviation Training Site (EAATS). Bechdel joined Det C, 1/169th immediately following her advanced aircraft training and began preparing to support Operation Enduring Freedom, KFOR8, in Kosovo. The detachment mobilized in July 2006 and deployed that September. During her KFOR8 deployment, Jackie served as the Platoon Leader as well as Battle Captain for the Tactical Operations Center (TOC). She was responsible for the MEDEVAC training of the multinational task force, and she coordinated an unprecedented Apache evacuation exercise that was highlighted in the Army Times. Bechdel was honorably discharged from the Army in October of 2011.
Wednesday, Nov. 8 – Screening of the documentary Silver Wings/Flying Dreams: The Complete Story of the Women Airforce Service Pilots – 6 p.m. (Village Hall 118): This is the true story of pioneering women, who for a brief moment in the darkest days of World War II, were able to shatter the glass ceiling and defy the convention that women had no place in the cockpit of American military aircraft. Surviving Women Airforce Service Pilots (WASP) relive their personal wartime experiences as the first female pilots to fly American military aircraft--ferrying aircraft, flying as test and transport pilots, towing targets for anti-aircraft gunnery practice, training male pilots, and testing top-secret radio control aircraft--the forerunners of the drones used by 21st-century military! Their inspirational story comes to life through heartfelt WASP interviews, archival material, and original footage.
- The connection to Western Pennsylvania:
- WASP Pilot, Frances Fortune Grimes, 43-W-3, (1914 – March 27, 1944) was a University of Pittsburgh alumnus. She graduated with a BS in Business Administration on June 9, 1937. She also was one of the 38 WASP pilots lost in service of their country, represented by the 38 stars in the Women Airforce Service Pilots flag (designed by Florence Shutsy Reynolds).
- WASP Pilot, Florence Shutsy Reynolds, 44-W-5 was a native of Connellsville, PA.
Thursday, Nov. 9 – Change of Mission: Life Challenges after Military Service – 6:30 p.m. (Mary Lou Campana Chapel and Lecture Center): Tyshawn Jenkins, an Air National Guard Veteran, will discuss "Change of Mission: Life Changes After Military Service" at this Veterans Week event co-sponsored by Veterans Services, Criminal Justice, and Psych State of Mind. Jenkins shares his journey through military deployments to finding his purpose and sharing his battles after leaving the military. Part of Warriors Speak, a group of wounded veterans and caregivers, he shares his motivational stories of service and sacrifice to raise awareness of the needs of this generation's injured military service members and their families. He will inspire the audience to create positive changes in their lives while raising awareness for the military community.
Friday, Nov. 10 – Annual Veterans Luncheon sponsored by Phi Eta Sigma – 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. (Hempfield Room (Chambers Hall): Pitt-Greensburg's chapter of Phi Eta Sigma, the national freshman honor society, will host its annual Veterans Luncheon in recognition of the service of regional military veterans. This event is open to all veterans, whether part of the campus community or in the greater Greensburg community. Celebrate the US Marine Corps birthday with a piece of cake or cupcakes, too!
Friday, Nov. 10 – RED Out – all day: Pitt-Greensburg invites the community to join the RED Out by wearing red to Remember Everyone Deployed. Show your support of US Military deployed across the globe.
To learn more about Military and Veterans Services at Pitt-Greensburg, please visit https://www.greensburg.pitt.edu/veterans.
Founded in 1963, the University of Pittsburgh at Greensburg is a publicly assisted, four-year, liberal arts college in southwestern Pennsylvania. Pitt-Greensburg offers 31 baccalaureate degree programs, including new majors in data analytics, nursing, and healthcare management, as well as 31 minors and four certificate programs. With nearly 1,400 students, more than 10,000 alumni, and faculty and staff numbering 260, Pitt-Greensburg provides a vibrant, diverse community that is a dynamic model of a 21st-century liberal arts education. As part of the University of Pittsburgh system, Pitt-Greensburg offers the resources of a world-renowned university combined with the individualized and immersive experiences of a small liberal arts college. Creativity and an entrepreneurial spirit permeate the campus and extend into its many collaborative projects with the Westmoreland County community. Nestled in Pennsylvania’s beautiful Laurel Highlands, the campus is surrounded by the region’s outdoor recreation venues and rich history. It is a five-minute drive from uptown Greensburg and less than an hour’s drive from Pittsburgh.